28 July 2007

Pass Me Six Slices of Bacon, Kevin

My buddy Bernard is a nervous wreck. He's afraid he could be implicated in the obesity epidemic of the last two decades. His concern has been triggered by a new study arguing that obesity is contagious. It seems as though the notion of acceptable weight is heavily influenced by our friends and relatives who, in turn, influence their friends and relatives' notion of normal, an odd variation on the game of six slices of bacon, Kevin.

This from the San Jose Mercury News
The study found a person's chances of becoming obese went up 57 percent if a friend did, 40 percent if a sibling did and 37 percent if a spouse did. In the closest friendships, the risk almost tripled. Researchers think it's more than just people with similar eating and exercise habits hanging out together. Instead, it may be that having relatives and friends who become obese changes one's idea of what is an acceptable weight.

In 1988, for no particularly good reason, Bernard's weight spiked. He gained 43 pounds. Shortly after that, his brother gained weight. And his friend. Then his brother's friends. His friend's friends. Now, as he walks through the mall, Bernard can see that the ripple effect outwards has seemed to have hit everyone, like a slow-motion, silent video of a fat kid executing the perfect cannon ball at the public pool. Fearful that sociologists will soon trace this epidemic back to him, Bernard is seeking solace in comfort food. Pass the bacon, Kevin.

1 comment:

Life Hiker said...

Why should cluster-obesity be a surprise? Any time people we feel good about engage in a behavior, it influences us toward it. Lots of otherwise apparently nice people are racists, for example, and they spread the disease quite well by pointing out the actions of some people in the group they hate.

Walking through a hospital yesterday I noticed a large group of visitors who seemed, by their conversation, to be related. When I say "large group", the words have two meanings. Nobody seemed the slightest bit sensitive to the fact that almost all of them were obese. Their mutual acceptance was enough for them.

Obesity is a giant problem in our country, to coin a phrase. Until we start talking about the immense financial costs these people are hitting us with, nothing will be done to clamp down on it. It's time to raise hell about this problem! But before we do, will you pass the bacon, please?